Today I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Christi Fondren.
Amazing Grace is a song about forgiveness and redemption. It is about our soul’s deliverance from destruction through the power and mercy of a loving father. Regardless of our transgressions, we can receive amazing grace when we least deserve it.
What’s the unlikely story behind Amazing Grace?
Ironically, it was written by an active slave trader, an obstinate, arrogant man whose sexual misconduct included taking liberties with female slaves. Close to suicide, John Newton contemplated murder. But, thanks to God’s amazing grace, that wasn’t the end of his story.
Newton was neck-deep into what he called his “wretched” life when he experienced his “great deliverance”. As his ship filled with water and death was eminent, he cried out to God. His ship righted, the cargo shifted and water stopped filling the boat. That day, he surrendered himself, his will, his control, his very life, to God. Safe on land, Newton penned the first verse to Amazing Grace.
Thirty-four years post-retirement, Newton apologized, saying, “a confession, which … comes too late … It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.” He was influential in Great Britain’s slave trade abolition. Often criticized for continuing to trade slaves after his conversion, Newton said, “I was greatly deficient in many respects … I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word, until a considerable time afterwards.”
Can you relate?
Many say that even though they made the walk down the aisle, they never truly believed “until a considerable time afterwards”. I was saved young. I studied my Bible and sin weighed heavy on my heart. I lived in prayerful repentance. I was a 12 year-old trying to measure up to the world’s Christian standards. I wasn’t sure I deserved salvation. Then it got easier because I started forgetting. I started subscribing to worldly knowledge instead of the wisdom of the Word. I stopped reading scripture and going to church. I became a daughter of the world who had no desire to be anything different. In fact, I started questioning everything.
Did I mention that I walked the aisle at a tiny white country church? It was so old that we had an outhouse! My grandpa led singing in the church while we sat on wooden pews that rocked when we fanned ourselves or bounced our feet while waiting for preaching to end. My grandmother sat obediently in her polyester dress, red-orange lipstick and pantyhose as thick as scuba gear. And she sang. Her favorite song? Amazing Grace.
Granny loved God and her family fiercely but she wasn’t a fierce woman. She was gentle, honest and kind. She raised six children on chicken, dumplings and black-eyed peas. She cooked, cleaned, served and sacrificed. She was Grace.
When I was 16, Granny fell and broke some bones and needed care that we couldn’t provide. I was struggling. My mother was divorced and in a new relationship. For seven years, my grandmother’s health declined in a nursing home alone. Her memory failed. Grandpa passed years earlier and it felt unusually cruel that she waited every day for him to come home from work. I loved my grandmother but I rarely visited her. I knew she needed me.
“I was greatly deficient in many respects.”
After she passed, there was a void. Over the next 17 years, my idea of God dwindled to a mere belief in the good in this world. Babies, my grandmother and love are good. Selfishness, 9/11 and hate are evil. But, what makes a person good? If everything we are is biological and there are no spiritual connections, why does the DNA of a selfless person not look remarkably different from that of another?
I related good and evil with hearts and people rather than God and Satan. I knew I was missing something but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know that it was the Holy Spirit whispering, “You forgot about me.” I didn’t remember that in order to have peace, we must surrender. I had forgotten.
Just as Newton surrendered his life in that boat, we have to surrender our lives to Him. Often, that happens in our darkest hour.
Now, imagine… I am facing my third divorce. I am ready to give up. My kids are all I have. Life is evil and it is only a matter of time before I lock the doors, draw the kids in close and wait for them to be taken away, too. I am broken, hopeless and in need, in a desperate way, of undeserved GRACE.
Facing myself in the mirror that day, I admitted that my life was not mine and the only thing that could help was a higher power. I prayed that God would remove everything not of Him. Then, I opened my eyes and told Satan to get out! I repeated it again and again until I could feel the chains falling off.
That was my “great deliverance” and like Newton, I didn’t become perfect after that. I had plenty of opportunities for prayer and repentance. That is how Satan works. He is going to come back around and attack from a different angle. But God uses those attacks to show you where you need to grow and heal. With every release from sin’s stronghold comes peace.
Now I can say I have a relationship with Jesus. And I know that even though I am not worthy, I can rest on his promise. And I know that good comes from God and evil comes from Satan and people and hearts are simply where those things reside.
When you are right with God, you don’t have to desperately seek Him. When you are right with God, the earth moves and He points your face in new directions. And you have peace that surpasses all understanding knowing that, because it is from God, it is good.
That is Grace. And it is Amazing.
The quirky, potato salad loving, tired but happy mom of six, Christi spends 40+ hours a week posing as a web designer and e-business specialist. She also owns a family business, heads up her church’s food ministry and is the past President and current board member of the Myasthenia Gravis Society. If she had spare time, she would probably sleep, but since she doesn’t, she enjoys the company of her amazing husband who is simultaneously her best friend and the love of her life. Connect with her on Facebook to witness or become part of the chaos.